Are we tired of winning yet, as candidate Donald Trump promised in 2016? Are we proud of how great the nation has become under President Trump’s MAGA leadership? Is the United States respected around the world like never before as Trump now claims? Is there a petition circulating to demand that the president’s leering, orange face be carved on Mt. Rushmore? Hell no!
According to polling last month by the Pew Research Center, 87 percent of Americans are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the United States. Only 17 percent of Americans say the state of the country makes them feel proud. A majority of 53 percent do not feel hopeful about the state of the country. Yet, Trump’s approval rating still hovers around 39 percent.
Life expectancy in the U.S. started declining in 2014, as much as one year in some areas of the U.S. Researchers found that the causes are drug overdoses, suicides, alcohol-related illnesses and obesity, problems they believe have been increasing since the 1980s. I don’t believe it is mere coincidence that these phenomena coincide with the growing inequality in this nation that had its genesis around the same time.
Since the days when President Ronald Reagan promoted supply-side economics, corporations and the wealthy have gained in power at the expense of workers and their families. Mr. and Mrs. American now have less control over their lives, while suffering with a smaller share of the nation’s wealth. According to an article in the Washington Post, union membership – which typically brings higher wages – has cratered from 35 percent in the 1950s to around 10 percent today. There’s even lower union membership among private sector workers, 6.2 percent.
Diminished bargaining power of the labor force resulted in lower wages for workers, higher profits for corporations and burgeoning CEO pay. I believe if all Americans had health insurance and a much higher federal minimum wage indexed to inflation, union membership would be less relevant. But Republicans consistently oppose unions, minimum wage increases and health care insurance reform, while medical care for Americans costs twice as much on average as it does for citizens of other wealthy countries.
The richest 10 percent of U.S. households held 70 percent of the nation’s wealth in 2018 and the top 1 percent controlled 32 percent. If anything, they’ve gotten even wealthier in 2020. These people invest in stocks so they reaped the benefits when the market’s second quarter this year was the best since 1998. Incredulously, this occurred while the coronavirus was killing 130,000+ Americans and the 11+ percent unemployment rate was predicted to trend higher as states stall reopening phases.
Unless the federal government provides hundreds of billions of dollars in relief for states and municipalities – perhaps $500 billion – lower tax revenues will force them to slash budgets. This will mean millions of public service workers will join the ranks of the unemployed, including thousands of teachers. Children’s education – already diminished from the coronavirus pandemic – will suffer even more. Police forces will be automatically “defunded” to lower levels and important community services will be cut. Senate Republicans, however, are balking at providing additional financial relief for states.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 4.8 million jobs had been added for the month ending in the middle of June. This good news resulted in a lot of Trump/Republican happy talk. Trump proclaimed: “Today’s [jobs] announcement proves that our economy is roaring back.” Yet, over 31 million Americans were seeking unemployment benefits during the same week that this rosy job survey was completed, hardly cause for celebration.
This nation’s challenges, however, aren’t just domestic. America’s stature on the world stage has shrunk several sizes since Trump took office. It’s hard to accept that the United States is now being called “pitiful” due to the Trump administration’s bungled handling of the coronavirus pandemic and “racist” due to the police killing of George Floyd and its aftermath. Countries around the globe are fearful of being caught between an erratic United States, which is no longer viewed by many as a trusted ally, and the hegemony of totalitarian China.
It appears that the Chinese government is much less concerned about Western criticism and sanctions. An official in China’s Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office, recently told reporters: “The era when the Chinese cared what others thought and looked up to others is in the past, never to return.” This is an ominous warning about China’s future intentions.
Russia’s aggression against the U.S. and Europe and China’s heavy-handed dominance over Hong Kong are likely the result of Trump’s foreign policy incompetence. And Taiwan’s independence from China could be threatened as U.S. attention is consumed by an election, a health catastrophe and nation-wide social unrest.
With the nation craving for unity, why did Trump choose Independence Day to further divide Americans with a veiled attack on Black Lives Matter protesters and praise of Confederate monuments? Well, if he’s trying to provoke more protests and violent rioting to enrage his base and enhance his chances for victory in November, that’s totally sick!
After eight years of Republican policy failures in 2008, America’s reputation was in the toilet and Americans were facing a bad recession. Trump managed to achieve even worse results in less than four years.
When will voters ever learn that electing Republicans brings a “Bad Deal” for both them and the nation?